Midweek Gameplan 8-31-11


The Buccaneers’ Most Recent

The Bucs edged the Dolphinsthis week and they very much looked like it was still the preseason. There were some hiccups with the offense, the defense gave up a huge play on the first drive and then everybody settled down and made some plays.

Blount is becoming a complete NFL back
Blount is becoming a complete NFL back /

One of the things that was impressive to me was the receiving ability out of the backfield of LeGarrette Blount.  Everyone is raving about his 52 yard scamper in the first quarter, but we already knew he was a great open field runner (even if he didn’t hurdle anyone).  What impressed me was a play on the same drive just a short time later.  The Bucs were forced into a third and long situation in the redzone.  Freeman went back to pass and his initial reads were covered.  He then checked down to Blount, who made just enough yardage for the first down.

This shows me two things: 1) Blount is starting to understand what to do and where to be on passing downs, and 2) He can be effective to make a play when one is really needed.  The fact that he came out of the backfield after he recognized there was no blitz, and then went to an open spot far enough down the field to get a first down shows that he is starting to understand the NFL passing game.

Injury Updates and Commentary

Aqib Talib not only got good news that he won’t be suspended this season, he also hinted that his hamstring is getting better and he could be back for the next game.  A pulled hamstring usually doesn’t require much commentary as anyone who has tried to play a sport after a couple of months has experienced this injury, but the injuries were minor this week.

What is amazing is the fact that Talib is about the only player on the Bucs to have this injury.  I figured there would be a whole consortium of players on the sidelines with various pulled muscles and inactivity injuries after the lockout.  I think this says volumes about the team and their dedication to staying in shape and keeping their muscles loose during the time off. 

Penalty Count

I am starting a new section this week, which addresses the penalties the Bucs had during the game and pointing out any particular penalties which should not happen.  There seems to be a trend that the team acquires penalties more than they should, and that there are always a couple which seem avoidable.  I know they are young, but they have to cut down on the brainless penalties.

This week they had 15 penalties for 135 yards, which is unacceptable.

It would be easy to pick on Morris for the delay of game 15 yarder when he challenged a touchdown, but I was more disappointed with the pass interference on E. J. Biggers.  He committed the foul on a third and long on a ball that was overthrown.  He put an arm bar on Brandon Marshall and got flagged for it which extended a drive that Miami eventually scored on.

NFL Matters

Despite the excellent story on this site in which my colleague, Josh Hill pined for Chris Johnson, I have to admit that I appreciate the way the Titans are handling the situation in a way.  The Titans have promised Johnson that if he checked into camp, they would make him the highest paid running back in the league.  This was apparently not good enough for him and he is demanding more money and wants to be paid like the highest paid receivers and offensive linemen.

While I am all for someone being rewarded for good play, you have to be reasonable about what you are worth.  There is a good reason that certain positions are paid higher than others.  Running backs have shorter playing careers than linemen and are easily replaceable.  Just ask Larry Johnson.  Every player should strive for being the highest paid at their position, wanting so much more just looks greedy and that you are just in it for yourself and not the team.  This is like the best strength coach demanding that he be paid like an offensive coordinator.

Fantasy Focus

I have my draft this week for my keeper league and this is a tough year for quarterbacks.  While I would love to count on Josh Freeman with a third or fourth round selection, it is hard to pass up one of the elite passers if they are available in the first couple of rounds.  My issue is which one to take if they are available.

I don’t like Michael Vick for personal reasons, and I also think that he will not make it through the season and cannot replicate last year’s success to the same level.  Peyton Manning is injured and may miss some time, Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo got hurt last year, and Drew Brees had an off year by his standards.  This pretty much leaves Tom Brady and Phillip Rivers.  There is part of me that thinks Rivers will have an outstanding year with all of his weapons back this year.  Let’s just see if I have the guts to pick him over Brady if given the chance (which I likely won’t as I pick at the end of the first round).

At The End of the Day

I have NFL Sunday Ticket to watch all of the games, but I am disappointed that they don’t carry all of the preseason games.  I like that they are all replayed on the NFL network, but it shouldn’t be that hard to broadcast all of them live.  Just a thought, as it is not cheap to have the Ticket (unless you are a new customer and got it for free this year).

Until next week; keep limber, stiff joints are painful.